1861 Confederate First National Flag
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $10,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:55)
Arms & Militaria
J. Christopher Mitchell American Antiques & Militaria
GUEST: My husband bought it about 20 years ago at an auction, at an estate auction. They held it up, and it was all...looked just like that, and he bought it.
APPRAISER: Okay, so it was already in pretty rough condition when he saw it. How much did he pay for it at the time?
APPRAISER: Did you think that this was a wise idea or...
GUEST: I said, "Are you sure?"
APPRAISER: (laughing) Okay, okay. This is a Confederate flag.
APPRAISER: And there are some features about it that a person like myself would immediately recognize. And that's when we have red, white, red instead of 13. And then if we look up in the top, the 11th star in this canton actually signifies the state of Tennessee.
APPRAISER: And they're one of the last states to go out, and this is after Lincoln called for men. And they secede in June of 1861. So what we're dealing here is a very typical, classic example of a homemade Confederate flag. It's called the First National Pattern because they move on from there. There are two more patterns that will evolve. It's all hand-stitched. We do have condition issues. Obviously, the bugs have gotten into it.
APPRAISER: It has been damaged. But they are the flags that are used in the beginning. Collectors, they look for a first national flag. The similarities that it does have to an American flag also led to the creation of the Confederate battle flag, which is the one that most people see and recognize immediately as the Confederate. And that's with the St. Andrew's cross with the stars in it, on a red background. And the reason that's done is because this flag was carried by the Confederate soldiers--not this particular one, but this style...
APPRAISER: At the Battle of First Manassas, or First Bull Run. And during the heat of the battle, with all the exchange of fire and the noise and the smoke and the dust from the wagons and the horses, it was easily confused with the American flag. So directly after that battle, General Beauregard and General Joseph Johnson start their communication that sets in the process of creating what will become the official battle flag, whereas this stays the political flag. One of the nice things about the flag also is that it is in its original condition. There has been no alteration up to this point. The state that you've brought it in to me to examine it, you can certainly ascertain that no one has gone through and tried to change or alter anything. They're hard to come by, in any state of preservation. Most, or a large amount, are institutionalized, so they're not on the market. So you have a desire to own. So this flag, in this shape, it may surprise you, but even like this, if it was properly framed where you could display it, I would expect this to retail for between $5,000 and $10,000.
GUEST: Oh, wonderful.
APPRAISER: If this flag were in nice shape, it would be $30,000 to $40,000.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.